Reflecting On Artists

It is an accepted — though generally unspoken — truism in the creative community that artists tend to “draw themselves.”  This is not to say that the characters being drawn could in any way be mistaken for the artists themselves (except in rare cases of extreme ego), but if you know the artist, and they are doing a lot of drawings of a character, you’ll start to notice certain traits creeping in.  For instance, if the artist is splay-footed, or slope-shouldered, or has a tendency to slouch, those aspects of posture will begin to show up in the characters they are drawing, especially if it has been a long day and the artist is tired.  If writers are told to “write what they know,” artists are often forced by circumstance to “draw what they know,” and in most cases, that means drawing what feels “right” and “natural” to them.  As such, it’s no wonder that their own muscle memory starts creeping in.  And don’t even get me started on the funny faces they make unconsciously when they are trying to draw expressions.

This isn’t a bad thing by any means.  By drawing upon their own bodies, the artist brings a “natural” quality to the artwork that the viewer can sense, even if it isn’t easy to define.  And a lot of times it leads to greatness.  Frank Frazetta may not have looked like Conan, but he was an extremely fit man in his time, and he could bring that power into his paintings.  Jim Lee may not be Batman, but he keeps himself in shape, and it shows in his work.  Jane Wu’s martial arts skills brought realism to everything from Mulan to the Avengers movie storyboards.  And if you’ve ever been perturbed to notice that Kim Possible’s ass seems particularly scrumptious in a shot or two, it’s probably because my wife did that show.

Oh, but I did mention those rare cases of extreme ego, right?  Yeah. Well anyone who knows the artist of this particular webcomic knows that this is one of such. What can I say?  Takes after his old man.  🙂

Bob out.

Artist’s Notes:  Yup.  So I’ll cop to even going so far as to using photo references for several of the scenes involving myself- the last panel on this page is a good example and yes, that’s exactly what I look like.  I originally sketched Max’s character with much shorter hair but at the time I was taking the reference photos my hair was shaggy and longish- like depicted here- and I kept it that way, to make him look more “homeless.”  Also, as you’ll notice in a couple of pages, longer hair has more of what we animators call “secondary action”, meaning it carries momentum and has a sense of life to it, unlike hair that is, for instance, glued in place with hairspray.    -Max